A few years ago, I was at a hardcore show in Tampa watching Day By Day play. They were tuning in between songs, and with the room burning hot and temporarily dead silent, their singer, Ian Dolan, began to speak into the mic. Everyone at the show, myself included, had their eyes on him as he stood on the small stage, half out of breath, sweat dripping down his forehead. In all honesty, I don’t remember a majority of what he said to the crowd of forty or so people, but he ushered a few careful sentences that have stuck with me since that night.
"Please, when you leave here, take a minute to read our lyrics,” he said. “These songs are important to us. They mean a lot.”
Although his statement was admittedly quite simple, it was delivered with a tone of such obvious sincerity that has, in my opinion, become so increasingly rare in people spanning any age. Within hardcore and beyond it. I could tell that Day By Day truly, deeply mattered to Ian, as well as every other member performing. It was apparent in every note they played, every word they sang, every smile they let out after a song ended.
Now, in 2018, Day By Day has released a new LP appropriately entitled Nowhere to Run. It’s a brooding, tortured sounding twelve song metallic-hardcore masterpiece that has been carefully and meticulously crafted to the point of borderline obsession. Over the course of the record’s approximate 25-minute run time, acts like Cold as Life and other assorted '90s New York powerhouses (Madball, Stigmata) are channeled to present hardcore that is as wildly original as it is intense and powerful.
Nowhere to Run, which is, in my opinion, one of the heaviest records to come out in recent memory, not only feels like Day By Day’s most thought-out and realized release, but an immensely personal accolade for each individual member as well. I know, without a doubt in mind, that every moment on that record is overwhelmingly personally significant to every person in the band. One listen alone makes it more than obvious. And while, of course, sincerity, honesty, and genuineness don’t adherently make a band good, the traits do possess the ability to separate good bands from unforgettable, unfading, legendary ones.
With Nowhere to Run, and presumably every release that comes after it, Day By Day has dared to step into that latter territory. Below is a chat I had with Ian and guitarist, Jared Hutcherson.
The Day by Day demo, according to Bandcamp, was released approximately four years ago. What has changed (sonically, personally, etc.) since the beginning of the group? Inversely, what, if anything, has remained the same?
Ian: Since the demo came out, everything is more focused and intense sounding, both sonically and lyrically. I don’t think we could have pulled off exactly how we wanted to sound on recording without the help from our friend, Corey Williams, who has recorded everything from Never Ending Lies to our latest record, Nowhere to Run. I wouldn’t want to do another record unless Corey was engineering it. What’s remained the same is that we’re still pulling from the same influences from when we started the band and still playing the same songs off the demo.
Jared: The demo was done by just Ian and Bug Spray. Eventually, I joined the band and Ian still played guitar and sang. Then we decided to ask Augie to join and see what playing as a 5-piece would be like. We all knew Augie for a while before we asked him, but he clicked with us all instantly. 4-piece Day By Day was a badass experience but it definitely was way different. The funny thing about it is that I feel like we still have a lot of the same feeling that we had on the demo... Now it’s just way more refined and focused. The initial idea for the band was to sound as "Miami" as possible. A lot of the bands that influenced the music (Brethren, Mindframe, Out of Spite, Anger, etc.) never really get talked about because they never made it too far outside of SFL, but they’re seriously epic. But. more than anything, we’ve just consistently tried to write music that felt right to us. It’s pretty easy for a hardcore band to be too tightly defined and stay within this creative box; if we write it and we like it then that’s all we care about.
Upon an initial listen, it’s apparent that Nowhere to Run is intensely brooding and blanketed by an atmosphere of dismalness and disappointment. Was it intentional for the record to be overtly cynical? What was going through your heads when you were writing the album?
Ian: The lyrical content on the record reflects the last 10 years or so of my life. Its about growing up and discovering how everything in life is a lie.
The record is also negative and, at times, even spiteful when it comes to the lyrics. There’s mentions of “a dystopian future,” an “end of humanity,” and “tortured souls." As a whole, what are you trying to say about the world with Nowhere to Run? In hindsight, do you feel as if you got your message across? How important to you is using Day by Day as a platform to speak your mind?
Ian: The message of the record can be perceived as a loose depiction on growing up a world that had so much potential. The one thing that got in the way was greed. Hardcore in general is a good way to speak your mind and can be used as an outlet. I would be lost without it.
One song on the record that seems to slightly differ from the rest, at least in terms of attitude, is the track "S.F.L.H.C." It speaks on your local scene triumphing and reaching new heights (regardless of past shortcomings or failures or abandonments). It’s a condensed success story that admirably flaunts localism and disregards outside opinion. What drove you to write a track like this? How do you feel South Florida hardcore has shaped the band, and beyond that, you as people?
Ian: South Florida has had a great scene for some time now, but up until recently, we were lacking a sense of pride. I wanted to write a song that represents where we come from. It’s a song about unity and I want everyone back home to be proud of how far we’ve come along. Without the support from our scene, Andre, John Mchale, and Eighty-Sixed Records, the band wouldn’t exist. I grew up going to shows here, and without hardcore in general, I would be in trouble.
Jared: When I first read the lyrics to this one, I felt like we had reached a definitive milestone and had something tangible to hold onto to prove what we’ve done by ourselves. We’ve had to do literally everything by ourselves. As a band and just as people... We’ve all had to constantly put ourselves out there to get whatever we wanted. People might be paying attention to our scene now but for a long time we didn’t have that; we didn’t have the luxury of putting out a demo or record and having people from across the world pay attention to it. I just know for a fact that we wouldn’t be where we are now if we hadn’t taken ourselves so seriously and given our all every step of the way. That’s what growing up in the SFLHC scene has been like; we continuously push each other and ourselves to new heights because we knew from the beginning that it’s all up to us in the end.
Day By Day, alongside some other South Florida bands, seems to work within a tight-knight group of coconspirators and affiliates. The art, the recording, the distribution, and the like are all handled by a select-few, longtime friends of yours. What is the reasoning behind this? Is working with the outside world simply, well, less appealing?
Ian: When the band was originally formed, we couldn’t find a label that wanted to work with us, so our friends offered to put our records. It’s gotten us this far, so why stop now?
Jared: I can’t say that it’s less appealing... I mean, there are definitely times where I’ve fantasized about how nice it would be to just worry about playing shows and writing music instead of figuring out logistics on putting out records, planning releases, etc. I think the only real reason we do so much by ourselves is because we know exactly how we want things to be and we’d all be disappointed if we didn’t get what we wanted out of this. If you depend on someone else to get something done and it doesn’t meet the standard you had, then what are you supposed to do? It’s a lot more work and a lot more stress, but getting things done on your own is such a rewarding feeling and that alone is worth it in the end.
In my opinion, Day By Day is one of the brightest shining examples of a band that is doing exactly what it wants exactly how it wants to. This is in terms of sound, imagery, show-booking, and so on and so forth. In a world where it seems as if hardcore has become increasingly dictated by trends and regurgitations of revered predecessors, how important is it to you guys to maintain complete control over the band? Will it ever matter to you what other people think? Has it ever mattered?
Ian: We’ve always done what we’ve felt was right for the band. We’d never want to compromise the way we operate as a band to stay relevant or to do whatever is popular in hardcore at the time. As long as everyone in the band can come to an agreement, that’s all that matters to us.
Jared: We try and do the band for ourselves and to do it to our own standards. I mean, that’s such a huge part of what hardcore should be about anyways... Self-expression and having control of your own world. If people like our band that’s awesome, and if they hate our band then I’m not gonna lose any sleep over it.
While this question has admittedly been done to death in interviews, I’d still like to ask (for those curious!): What are some primary sources of inspiration behind the band, sonically or otherwise? Are there any lesser-obvious reference points that you feel yourself channeling or revisiting?
Ian: A few major influences on the band that people may or may not pick up on are bands like Chokehold, Unbroken, and a few hardcore bands from Miami, like Brethren and Out of Spite.
Jared: Our main influences are some of the Miami bands I mentioned earlier like Brethren, Mindframe, and Anger. But, we also definitely try and keep a lot of bands like Cold as Life, Madball, Stigmata, Dying Breed, Chokehold, and even Unbroken, in mind when we’re writing anything.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, why Day By Day? Any final words or shout outs?
Ian: Thanks for having us. Pick up a copy of our new record, Nowhere to Run, if you haven’t already. Support Eighty-Sixed Records and listen to SFLHC bands.
Jared: Why Day By Day? Cause we’re the fuckin’ best, why the fuck else! STSC!
Nowhere to Run is available now via Eighty-Sixed Records.
Tagged: day by day